Japanese Forestry: Designing Abundance

Holding our Kizara Memo Pad in your hands, you might be struck by the subtle texture of wood under your fingertips, or the wavelike design of the woodgrain, or even the subtle scent of red pine that hovers over its pages. You might not realize that every page is shaved from a single block of wood, or think about the kind of tree each page came from. But the fact is that if you’ve bought a Kizara notepad, you’ve likely helped keep a forest in Japan healthy and well-maintained.

 Back in 1960, hundreds of seedlings were planted by the Japanese government in an effort to restart the stagnant Japanese forestry industry. Because forests take over 50 years to grow, those same trees now stand fully mature and ready to be harvested. That effort turned Japan into one of the most densely forested terrains in the world, with almost 40% of its land covered by trees that compete with one another for soil, sun and water. 

However, because these man-made forests require expensive supervision and maintenance, most of these forests have been abandoned and neglected for years. Faced with a growing expense, the decline of the local forestry industry has strengthened foreign suppliers who pursue cheaper and unsustainable logging techniques. “Eco-friendly” is not an easy (or cheap) adjective to come by in the forestry industry, and despite its vast domestic resources, Japan has become one of the world’s largest importers of lumber. The result is an overcrowded forest population and a struggling local industry that cannot compete without compromising its environmental values. 

Organizations like the Kizara Project are fighting back by designing beautiful wooden products made from from excess trees. The timber used in Kizara’s memo pads is harvested by a technique known as tree-thinning, which strategically clears older, weak trees that burden the rest of the forest. Instead of performing mass deforestation, tree thinning removes the weak links so that strong trees can flourish. This pruning process gives the woods room to grow, allowing wildlife to move back in and increasing forest biodiversity.  

By facilitating better forest management, the Kizara Project stands as an example of how conscious design can have a positive impact on our environment. By supporting them, we can achieve their mission to protect the forests their ancestors planted for us- and take that same forest with us wherever we go.